DAP MP changes tune on ending death penalty after raped baby girl dies

Ida Nadirah Ibrahim
Ramkarpal Singh today suggested keeping the death penalty for murder, after a nine-month-old girl died from being physically and sexually brutalised. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 — Lawyer and lawmaker Ramkarpal Singh today suggested keeping the death penalty for murder, after a nine-month-old girl died from being physically and sexually brutalised.

The DAP MP for Bukit Gelugor who admitted to having advocated for the abolition of the mandatory death sentence said the penalty should be retained for exceptional cases where the crime can be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

“It is debatable if the death penalty should be completely abolished in other cases but in cases of murder, especially of children, it should be retained to a certain extent.

“I also note the concerns of the families of murder victims recently that the abolishment of the death penalty may send the wrong signal that such crimes are not taken seriously enough,” he said in a statement.

Ramkarpal proposed that judges be given the discretion to decide whether or not to sentence an accused person to death for the most heinous crimes.

As example, he cited the recent death of the baby girl, who was said to have been raped, sodomised in addition to suffering head trauma while in the care of her 28-year-old baby sitter.

Police have arrested the woman and her husband, a 36-year-old barber for investigations.

Last Friday, a three-year-old boy died at the Ampang Hospital after being treated for severe injuries, suspected to have been inflicted by his stepfather.

Ramkarpal said that in such cases, the courts would be able to judge based on the facts and circumstances and impose the death penalty if they felt the accused deserved it.

“Such discretion will also allow the court to consider any mitigating factors which may favour an accused in sparing him or her from the death penalty.

“It is not an easy task, no doubt, but at the same time, such gruesome murders cannot, or be seen to escape the long arm of the law. The state has a duty to protect such helpless victims and the courts should be empowered to do so,” he said.

“There can be no justification for inflicting such pain on a child to the point of taking away his or her life. It is certainly not human nature to harm children, let alone in such a heinous and inhumane manner,” he added.

The Pakatan Harapan government had last month announced plans are underway to dismantle the mandatory death sentence as it promised before the May elections.

It said it is currently awaiting feedback and a comprehensive review from the Attorney-General’s Chambers before tabling it in Parliament.

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